Choosing a Web Hosting Company

In this installment of “Getting Started can be Tough”, we’ll talk about the First Step in building a Web site — Choosing a Web hosting company — and then in later installments we’ll talk about the other facets of building a Web site like: Choosing a choosing a content management system (CMS), managing your Internet properties, troubleshooting your e-mail server, etc.

In Theory: There is no Difference Between Practice & Theory

We’ve all been there: We’ve all visualized that perfect layout for our Web site: We’ve all planned the perfectly organized information architecture, imagined the seemless flow of information from site to visitor, and anticpated the perfect delivery of the information that our visitors will consume: We’ve all imagined the fanbase that develops in the darkness, illuminated by the glow of the computer screen, as visitors from all over the globe pour over our vast collection of content. And then we actually come face-to-face with the daunting task of actually building a web site: Selecting a hosting company; choosing the perfect domain name; registering our domain name; choosing a content management system and a template; and then placing that first order for hosting, for a domain name, and maybe even an SSL certificate to protect our new home in Cyberspace! And this is all before we even get down to (finally!) installing the CMS and building our dream site!

Sounds pretty manageable, though. Right? Maybe for some but for most the prospect of building a web site can be overwhelmingly complex. Even with some friendly guidance (e.g., the IT guy at work, the relative that has that funny or insightful blog, the friend that seems to know a lot about computers, etc) building a web site comes with lots of questions and no Owners Manual.

The First Step: Choose a Web Hosting Company

For the unintiated, building a Web site can be overwhelming because the Internet is a complicated and scary place! Who should you trust with your precious site? Who can you trust with your personal infomation? Who should you trust to register that domain name? It’s a world filled with strangers and choosing who to trust is a fundamental question that will determine the success (or failure) or your fledgling site. What we recommend to all would-be Internet authors and entrepeneurs is simple: Choose a hosting company that will work with you to guide you through the process of building your site, that will expand your knowledge along the way, and will work with you to help you achieve your goals. Choose a hosting company that will be like a partner – a partner that will listen to your ideas, your goals, your questions, and your dreams and offer sound technical advice without bias or prejudice for the partner’s products or services. Choose a partner that answers the phone when you call.

There’s no official, global registry of Web hosting companies in operation today but most industry professionals agree that there are tens of thousands of web hosting companies in business, around the world, at any given time and, without having a detailed understanding of your hosting needs (e.g., CMS, database, scripting languages, storage and bandwidth use, etc) it’s impossible to choose a hosting company that can fulfill those needs for the right price. So where should you start? What we recommend to all would-be Internet authors and entrepeneurs is simple: Ask your friends. Ask your family. Ask anyone that has a Web site where they host their site and if they’d recommend that hosting company. It might be a good idea to give a high-level overview of what it is that you’d like to accomplish but we usually caution would-be Internet authors and entrepeneurs from saying too much for fear of boring the other person and for fear of giving away your creative ideas to others who might use those ideas without your consent. Once you’ve gathered a few recommendations, pick up the phone. Call the hosting company. Tell them that you want to build a Web site and ask them if they can help you through the process of building your site. Ask them if they can help you register a domain name. Ask them if they can help you install and/or configure the CMS that you’ve chosen. Ask them if they can help you achieve your goals.